Inside Scoop on BST 3 & 4

A letter from Emilie Brown, Co-creator of Signing Time

Alex and Emilie Brown
Alex and Emilie Brown

Don’t you love fall? I sure do. October is inevitably one of the busiest times for us at Two Little Hands Productions. Aside from dealing with the reality that school is back is session, and winter is around the corner, October means that we better have everything ready for the holidays.  It’s also National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which means Rachel is on the road non-stop performing at Buddy Walks around the country. (Plus her birthday is in October!)
Organizations contact us to invite Rachel – and in some cases Alex, Leah and Hopkins – out to their event to speak or perform. It is exciting for us to meet our Signing Time friends around the country. Alex is excited because he and Leah got to go to North Carolina last weekend for the Triangle Down Syndrome Network Buddy Walk. I couldn’t tell which he was more excited about…missing a day of school or traveling with his best friend (and cousin) Leah!

For me, September and October have been Baby Signing Time 24/7. Alright, that is an exaggeration, but my focus has been making sure that Volumes 3 and 4 make it to you on time and that they are fabulous. Well, I am completely happy because we shipped them on time and I happen to think they are fabulous. It is exciting to hear what you think about them and I look forward to reading more about what you all think.

So, today you’ll get the inside scoop on BST (that’s Baby Signing Time).

Baby Sign Language Revolution

A couple years ago, I was at a restaurant with my family having breakfast and I started jotting down the concept for BST on a napkin. I called Rachel and shared my idea with her and we knew we had to do it. By that point Signing Time began to grow up, with more complicated signs and concepts. The baby sign language trend was gaining momentum and we wanted to create DVDs that were specifically for babies.

The Process: What Signs Should We Teach?

Many of you have asked us how we decide which signs to teach in our DVDs. Since BST teaches through songs, we chose first words that fit in natural groupings. Here is how the process went with BST 3 & 4.

First, I developed lists of signs that would be useful for little ones and organized them into song groupings and I passed them onto Rachel. Second, Rachel began brainstorming song concepts and regrouped the signs to fit her new ideas. Third, Rachel met with Lex (our dad and music producer) to flesh out the songs even further. Fourth, they recorded demo versions of the songs that were then sent to me and the writer/director Damian Dayton. Fifth, Damian fleshed out the scripts, while Lex and Rachel made final changes to the songs and recorded the final vocals. Finally, scripts were completed and we began prepping for production.

What, Sometimes Babies Don’t Sign on Cue?

We decided to have an open audition for BST. We were amazed at the little signers that sent in video auditions! We received over 400 auditions! We were supposed to cast around 40 kids but we just couldn’t choose from so many CUTE kids, so we cast 60. In the end that may have been the better idea to cast more because babies and toddlers behave like babies and toddlers – sometimes they want to do what you want them to do, and sometimes they don’t. And there really isn’t much negotiating with a two year old…even a signing two-year old! Hey…at least we know what they want!

In the end we got wonderful footage. Some kids made it in BST a lot, some a bit, and some…well, let’s just say we were glad that we taught sad and cry in Volume 4 because that may have been their only usable shot 😉 The editors job is to cut the show together the best they can, so unfortunately, there may be a few kids that didn’t make it in the final show….*SNIFF. That’s show-biz, I guess.

Rachel Is Wearing a Size What?

So, have any of you noticed that Rachel looks a bit different in BST 3 & 4 than she does in Season Two? Well, Rachel decided to get into excellent physical condition this year. Just imagine how fit you’d need to be to pick up 8 year-old Lucy everyday! That all sounds great until you realize EVERYTHING that losing weight affects on video!

Um, Rachel, Could You Gain More Weight for Production?

So we filmed Rachel doing all of her singing and teaching. I came in to look at the footage and my heart sank. Where was Rachel? It didn’t look anything like her! Here she was better than ever in real life, yet on film she didn’t look like Signing Time Rachel at all. We had to make a tough call – do we put this footage in the show or scrap it and start all over again? Well, I think we did the right thing. We started all over again, but not before we adjusted her outfit, lighting, make up and hair. When we came back to film a second time, I smiled. There was the BST Rachel we know and love…it turned out better than ever!

Ahhhh Fall!

So, that’s it—the inside scoop on the making of BST 3 & 4.  Looking back, these past couple months have been quite the journey for us. We have been super busy…but that is a good thing right??? Our passion is producing shows that are fun and educational and make a difference for families.

I love hearing your stories. I love the emails that help us know we are making a difference. I love your suggestions. I love the product ideas that you share. Thank you all for your commitment to communication for all children! It is because of all of you that believe in our mission that we can continue creating new programs.

Oh, one last thing…I cried when I watched Tiny Hands. It is amazing to see not only how much Alex and Leah have grown up, but to see how Signing Time has grown up! It truly is remarkable…and I have loved this journey. I can’t wait for all the new and exciting adventures that will come our way in the future!

I hope you enjoy these shows as much as we enjoyed creating them.

Have a great October!

Warmly,

Emilie (Alex’s mom/Rachel’s sister/Leah’s aunt/co-creator of Signing Time) Brown